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How to Screen Candidates

April 29, 2024

Tips to Screen Candidates the Right Way

Screening by Varun Jagotta on Dribbble

The recruitment process for many candidates can feel like sifting through mountains of sand for a single gold nugget. But what if you could streamline your own candidate screening process and identify those shining stars much faster?  Effective candidate screening is essential for any business looking to build a high-performing team.

Here we equip you with amazing tips and tricks to refine your screening process, saving you time and ensuring you attract the best candidates and job market.  Whether you're a seasoned recruiter, a small business owner, a hiring manager or working with a staffing agency, these insights will help you land the perfect hire.

Building a Strong Foundation: The Pre-Screening Phase

Before diving into resumes and cover letters and reviewing job applications, take a step back and solidify your screening strategy. Here's how to lay the groundwork:

How to design a thorough hiring process for your company? — Part II - DEV  Community
  • Craft a Compelling Job Description:  Your job description is the first impression you make on potential candidates. Make it clear, concise, and highlight the skills and experience you're seeking.  Avoid generic language and focus on the specific responsibilities and qualities that will make someone successful in the role.
  • Identify Key Criteria:  Outline the essential skills, experience level, and any certifications or qualifications required for the position. This acts as a benchmark when screening resumes and helps maintain consistency during the process.
  • Utilize Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS):  Consider using an ATS to streamline resume screening.  These systems can filter resumes based on keywords and qualifications, saving you valuable time and effort.

Shining a Light: Effective Screening Techniques

Now that you have a solid foundation for evaluating candidates of job candidates, let's explore various screening methods to identify the most promising candidates:

1. Resume and Cover Letter Review:

This phone screen is the initial checkpoint where you get a glimpse into a candidate's background and fit for job responsibilities for the role. Here's how to make the most of it:

  • Keyword Scanning:  Utilize the key criteria you identified earlier. Look for relevant keywords in the resume that showcase the required skills and experience. For instance, if the job demands proficiency in graphic design software, scan for keywords like "Adobe Photoshop," "Illustrator," or "InDesign."
  • Experience Alignment: Analyze the candidate's work history to see if their past experiences align with the responsibilities outlined in the job description. Look for specific examples and achievements that demonstrate their ability to handle similar tasks or projects.
  • Cover Letter Analysis:  A cover letter, while not mandatory for every application, provides valuable insights. See if the candidate has tailored the letter to the specific role and company. Does it showcase their enthusiasm for the position and highlight their most relevant skills?
Elegant Line Art Resume Cover Letter by Millusti on Dribbble


Let's say you're looking for a social media manager. A top candidate experience strong resume would showcase experience managing social media platforms, content creation skills, and data analysis experience.  The ideal cover letter would express the candidate's passion for social media marketing, highlight their experience growing a brand's online presence, their relevant experience, and demonstrate their understanding of your company's target audience.

2. Phone Screening:

A phone screening is a fantastic opportunity to have a quick conversation screen job candidates and gain a deeper understanding of the other candidate's skills. Here are some tips for conducting effective phone screenings:

  • Prepare Questions:  Develop a set of questions that target key qualifications, salary expectations, and overall interest in the position.  Examples include: "Tell me about your experience managing social media campaigns," or "What are your salary expectations for this role?"
  • Assess Communication Skills:  Pay attention to how the candidate communicates. Are they clear, concise, and professional?  This initial interaction can reveal a lot about their personality and how they might present themselves in a formal interview setting.
  • Gauge Enthusiasm:  Listen for genuine interest and excitement in the role and your company.  Does the candidate ask insightful questions about the position and demonstrate a willingness to learn more?
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During a phone call screening job candidates for a marketing associate role, you might ask the candidate to elaborate on a specific project they mention in their resume.  Listen attentively to their response. Do they speak passionately about the project and their contributions?  Do they ask questions about your company culture or the team they would be working with? These details can indicate a high level of interest in particular job and potential fit.

3. Skills Assessments:

Skills assessments can be a game-changer, especially for roles requiring specific technical proficiencies. Here's how to take skills tests and leverage them effectively:

  • Identify Relevant Skills:  Choose assessments that target the core skills mentioned in the job description.  For example, if the position requires strong writing skills, consider a writing sample test or a grammar assessment.
  • Standardized Testing:  Utilize standardized tests that offer reliable results and allow you to benchmark candidates against pre-defined criteria. Many online platforms offer a variety of skills assessments for various disciplines.
  • Custom-Designed Tests:  For highly specialized roles, consider creating a custom test that directly reflects the tasks and responsibilities outlined in the job description.
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You're hiring for a web developer position. A relevant skills assessment could involve a coding test where candidates need to solve a specific programming challenge. This a skills test allows you and screening applicants to evaluate their technical skills and problem-solving abilities in a controlled environment.

4. Video Interviews:

Video interviews are a convenient and efficient way to evaluate potential job candidates to conduct pre-screening interviews remotely. Here are some ways to do in person interviews and make the most of them:

  • One-Way vs. Two-Way:  Consider one-way video interviews where candidates record responses to pre-determined questions. This can be a time-saving method for initial screenings.  However, two-way video interviews allow for real-time interaction and assessment of non-verbal cues.
  • Structured Questions:  Prepare a set of structured questions to ensure consistency across interviews.  This allows you to compare candidates fairly and efficiently.
  • Body Language and Presentation:  While qualifications are crucial, video interviews also allow you to assess a candidate's body language, communication style, and overall presentation.
Attempt-Video-Interview-Online - Online Skill Assessment | Online Exam  Software | Eklavvya.com


Let's say you're interviewing two job applicants for a customer service representative role.  A video interview might involve pre-recorded questions about conflict resolution techniques or how they would handle a frustrated customer. You can give interview questions and then assess their communication skills, empathy, and

professionalism through their on-screen presence.

5. Social Media Screening:

Social media screening can be a double-edged sword. Here's how to approach it cautiously:

  • Focus on Professionalism:  Look for content that showcases the candidate's professional brand and aligns with your company culture. Does their social media presence reflect the values and image you want to portray?
  • Respect Privacy Settings:  Only look at publicly available information.  Do not search for private profiles or information.
  • Maintain Compliance:  Be mindful of legal restrictions regarding social media screening in your region.  Certain types of information gleaned from social media might be off-limits when making hiring decisions.
Explore the World of Social Media with a Stylish Cartoon Character


While social media screening and job requirements can be controversial, let's say you're hiring for a social media manager role.  You could call suitable candidates and check their public profiles to see if they actively participate in relevant online communities and demonstrate strong social media engagement.

Remember this...

Social media screening should never be the sole factor in a hiring decision. It's a supplemental tool to further background checks and gain further insights into job seekers, used with caution and in compliance with local regulations.

By utilizing this combination of automated resume screening tools and techniques, you can effectively and screening candidates to separate the wheat from the chaff and identify candidates who possess the skills, experience, and cultural fit to excel within your organization. Remember, the goal is to create a well-rounded screening process that allows you to find the perfect match for your team.

Beyond the Resume: Uncovering the "X" Factor

While qualifications are important, what is screening for a successful hire often comes down to cultural fit and soft skills. Here's how to delve deeper into hiring teams:

  • Behavioral Interviewing:  Go beyond the "tell me about a time" cliche.  Use behavioral interviewing questions that focus on past experiences and how a candidate demonstrated specific skills in real-world situations.
  • Reference Checks:  Contact previous employers or references listed on the resume to verify the candidate's work ethic, skills, and accomplishments.
  • Work Sample Tests:  Assign a project or task relevant to the position to assess the candidate's abilities and problem-solving skills.
Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say? : NPR Ed : NPR

Keeping it Legal and Ethical

Throughout the screening and selection process, remember to maintain legal and ethical practices. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Be Consistent: Apply the same screening criteria to all candidates for the same position.
  • Focus on Job-Related Criteria: Avoid discriminatory questions or screening practices based on factors like age, race, or gender.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: Keep candidate information secure and only share it with those directly involved in the recruiting process.

Collaboration is Key

Don't go it alone! Involve your hiring managers and other team members in the screening and hiring process.  Multiple perspectives can help identify well-rounded candidates who will thrive in your company culture.

Amidst today’s noisy digital world, brands find it challenging to create meaningful connections with their customer base and target audience. Getting the target consumer’s attention and persuading them to buy from you gets even trickier. Hence, content marketing has become more crucial than ever for brands to attract, educate, and retain customers.

Content creation is a top priority for 80% of marketers, and there is no reason it shouldn’t be. Consistent, high-quality, and engaging content impacts your audience’s decisions through education and persuasion.

Depending on your business goals and requirements, the role of Content Marketers you hire will vary. The primary responsibilities revolve around forming consistent brand messaging and deciding upon a unique and identifiable voice, style, and pitch across various distribution channels.

From raising brand awareness to attracting a relevant audience to your website, boosting social media presence and engagement, generating leads, and building brand loyalty – content marketing drives all the growth efforts for your brand. When done effectively, it can help you:

  • Build positive brand awareness
  • Make your audience stick around for longer
  • Get better traction on social media
  • Gain more trust of your audience than ever
  • Generate qualified leads
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Boost business visibility with SEO
  • Position your brand as an authority
  • Cultivate loyal brand fans

While content marketing is a broad role with numerous areas of expertise involved, it’s vital to thoroughly understand your company’s current marketing goals and the related requirements. In this blog, we will dive deep into the step-by-step approach to hiring a Content Marketer.

What is The Role of a Content Marketer?

A Content Marketer must be deeply passionate about telling your brand’s story to the world. The objective is to educate and nurture the target audience to establish brand authority using thought-leadership and drive more people to buy from you.

As a candidate is expected to be a mediator between the brand and the target audience, they are primarily responsible for planning, creating, and sharing valuable content to grow their company’s awareness and engagement to bring more business.

To be more specific, the role of a Content Marketer requires a perfect blend of creativity and attention to detail in an individual. It’s a balancing role, as they need to ensure creating content that resonates and strengthens business relationships, using strategies that position your business as authentic and problem-solving.

Take a look at the core responsibilities of a Content Marketer that most businesses expect them to take over:

  • Research and Competitor Analysis: The first and foremost step to creating a content marketing strategy is effective initial research. It not only helps a Content Marketer understand the nuances of the industry through competitor analysis but also study and understand the target audience thoroughly.
  • Building Content Marketing Plans: Once the competitor research and target audience analysis is done, a Content Marketer needs to work on the different plans for all the business objectives, targeted channels, segments of the audience, and the bigger marketing strategy. A content marketing plan typically consists of:
  • Specific goals along with a pre-decided timeline
  • Various channels to be targeted for content distribution
  • Types of content to be created
  • Budget for the entire staff, outsourced services, and paid promotion (Collabs and Ads)
  • Creating Editorial Calendar: Creating, managing, and maintaining a content calendar is one of the most crucial responsibilities of a Content Marketer. It is a centralized visual document that enables effective collaboration among the marketing team and helps Content Marketers ensure on-time production and delivery.
  • Content Creation: Once the strategy and calendar have been approved by relevant stakeholders, Content Marketers need to do the on-ground work. This task usually depends on the scale of your company and content marketing strategy. Suppose an organization already has a set of writers, then the Content Marketer doesn’t need to create content by themselves.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Producing quality content that educates your target audience and resonates with them, isn’t enough. You need to optimize your content creation to make it search engine-friendly. While most companies need a dedicated SEO specialist for keyword research and planning, Content Marketers need to closely collaborate with them and should be well-versed in the basics of SEO.

While the practices discussed above are primary responsibilities of a Content Marketer, they also need to be proactive with

  • Content editing and ensuring adherence to a certain style guide    
  • Continous publishing and distributing content
  • Measuring and analyzing performance

How to Hire a Content Marketer: Step-By-Step?

Content marketing has become the key to driving growth for businesses. Unlike a few years ago, it’s not possible now to get away with a one-person team for content marketing. You need deeply trained individuals for specialist roles.

Let’s now dive into the step-by-step approach of hiring a Content Marketer. But before you even source your first candidate, you should have a clear expectation of the skillset and experience to look out for top content marketing candidates.

Top Must-Have Skills in a Content Marketer

Apart from having relevant industry experience, a good Content Marketer must possess the following skills.

  1. Excellent Writing Skills

A Content Marketer’s prior skillset should be writing excellent attention-grabbing content. From long-form blog posts to website copy, ad copies, social media content, video scripts, emails, newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, and more – a Content Marketer should be able to adapt to the business’s specific requirements and create quality content.

  1. Audience Research

Identifying user behavior is vital for framing the story in the right direction. So a Content Marketer must know how to identify and analyze the needs and pain points to develop a buyer persona. User research can be performed through social listening, relevant communities, in-person calls with customers, analyzing sales call recordings, and more.

  1. Keyword Research

Creating valuable thought-leadership content isn’t enough. Researching the right set of keywords is an essential skill to further educate your target audience on the Whys, Hows and Whats of your business, and have your website rank on Google.

  1. Data-oriented Content

Content that’s not backed by relevant data points does not build enough trust. Experienced content marketing professionals would always prefer data over hollow claims. No doubt that only data doesn’t help a content piece succeed, but it’s essential..

  1. Project Management, Planning, and Publishing –

A Content Marketer is also expected to break down and analyze the pain points to turn keyword research into content ideas. So a professional must be able to identify and solve content gaps.

Further, they must know how to create a content calendar, decide the different types of content, and choose relevant platforms to publish and schedule marketing campaigns.

  1. Content Promotion

Creating a valuable content piece, for example - an ebook, isn’t enough. Your content marketing team needs to promote it proactively for bringing enough attention and engagement.

  1. Performance Analysis

Setting up goals and plans is one thing, but continuously executing, measuring, and analyzing content performance is another. A Content Marketer should always be monitoring key performance parameters to figure out the upcoming plans with the necessary updates required.

Not to forget - stakeholders and marketing heads need the performance reports regularly. So Content Marketers must be able to collect and comprehend all the data to make it worth presenting.

Step 1: Create a Candidate Persona

Let’s sort out the priorities first, and decide the type of content marketing candidates you want to recruit. From exceptional research skills to storytelling, communication skills, relationship building, audience engagement, and more capabilities must be comprehensively considered. Identify and break down the skill requirements for Content Marketers:

  • What are the educational qualification criteria for the role?
  • How many years and what type of work experience do you want in candidates?
  • What are the specific skill sets you’re looking for?
  • Which industry experience would you primarily prefer?
  • Are there any tools your candidates should be hands-on with?
  • What are some personality traits that will fit your company?
  • Where do they look for a new job?
  • What are their career and life goals?

Forming a candidate persona by answering all these questions would ensure you are not shooting in the dark while sourcing candidates. Further, it helps you determine the traits of the ideal candidate, and plan your sourcing and recruitment strategy further.

Step 2: Document the Role Requirements and Decide on Your Recruiting Process

Next step is determining your role requirements suiting primarily to organizational needs and business goals. A content marketing professional is expected to own the entire content strategy, creation, and distribution. But what about your business’s unique requirements?

You might need someone comfortable with frequently creating long-form content pieces like blogs, ebooks, or whitepapers, or creating engaging video content based on your industry trends.

Talk to various relevant stakeholders for seeking the complete detailed company requirements for the role.

Before you enter the recruitment funnel, outline your talent acquisition process. Identify various strategies, channels, and other informational insights you would need – and maintain a collaborative document.

As you update the tactics and tweak your recruitment process for meeting hiring requirements optimally – keep your document up to date.

Step 3: Prepare a Content Marketing Job Description

Once you have finalized the role requirements with respect to your current content marketing goals and team, you can start sourcing candidates. Preparing the job description is the first task you’ll need to do.

Here are the necessary components you must have in your job description:

  • Job Title: The position you’re looking to fill. For example - Content Marketing Specialist or Content Marketing Manager.
  • Roles & Responsibilities: An outline of the candidate’s day-to-day activities. From ideation to implementation and the impact on the organization, everything should be covered.  
  • Skill Requirements: Skills and abilities a candidate must have to perform the job successfully.
  • Perks and Benefits: The compensation details, perks of the job, and any other benefits.
  • About the Company: Why should a candidate consider working with your company?

Content Marketer Job Description Template


The job of a Content Marketer is to perform competitor research, create user persona, and write plagiarism-free content for blog articles, social media, and the company website. They need to stay updated on the latest SEO techniques.


  • Develop, write and deliver persuasive copy for the website, email marketing campaigns, sales collateral, videos, and blogs
  • Build and manage an editorial calendar; coordinate with other content crafters to ensure standards
  • Measure impact and perform analysis to improve KPIs
  • Include and optimize all content for SEO
  • Contribute to the localization of processes and content to ensure consistency across regions
  • Review and implement process changes to drive operational excellence


  • Proven content marketing, copywriting, or SEO experience
  • Working knowledge of content management systems like WordPress
  • A well-maintained portfolio of published articles, blogs, copy, etc
  • Proven experience of working under pressure to deliver high quality output in a short span of time
  • Proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications, Google Suite
  • Fluency in English or any other required language

Soft Skills

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • The ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • The ability to handle multiple projects concurrently
  • Strong attention to detail and the ability to multi-task projects and deliverables

Step 4: Source Candidates

Once you have the tailored job description in hand, it’s now time to do the groundwork and source candidates. Create an attractive job post to promote your job across job boards and social channels.

  • Begin with what to expect from the role at your company?
  • Why should candidates apply for the position?
  • Highlight the growth opportunities
  • State the company vision and mission
  • Briefly describe the recruitment process

Prepare an impactful job post and also execute paid job ad campaigns if required. The next step would be promoting your jobs on various job boards and hiring platforms. You can leverage the following platforms for hiring Content Marketers:

  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Instahyre
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Monster
  • GlassDoor
  • CareerBuilder

Not to forget - almost 3/4th of the workforce includes passive candidates, so you cannot miss out on passive talent sourcing as well. Reach out to qualified candidates on communities, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook to offer them suitable opportunities.

Step 5: Evaluate Candidates and Interview Shortlisted Ones

Once you have filtered candidates based on their experience and skills listed on their profile, it’s time to evaluate them deeply. Ask them to create a content strategy for your website, along with a value-adding content piece like a small blog. The topic of the article must fall within the scope of the strategy.

Interview the candidates whose profiles got shortlisted. Keep in mind the parameters covering skills, relevant experience, and personality traits of candidates.

Step 5: Make the Hire

Reach out to selected Content Marketers and communicate about the compensation.

Further, extend your offer letter to all the candidates who have been selected. In the case of passive sourcing, extend to only those who were aligned with you on the compensation and are willing to move forward.

Ensure having a deadline for the joining date and mention the necessary documents required by your recruiting team.

  • Get the required documents and set up the offer agreements with candidates
  • Organize an orientation session for the onboarded candidates
  • Introduce them to the entire team and the marketing teams they will be working with
  • Guide the new candidates about your company management tools and communication channels
  • Provide candidates with forms for benefits and perks like Health Insurance.

Supercharge Your Hiring for Content Marketer with Nurturebox

Inbound candidate sourcing doesn’t work effectively anymore. Do you also find challenges in closing quality candidates through job posts even after spending on ads?

Don’t worry, passive candidate sourcing can be an optimal solution for hiring top content marketing candidates.

Nurturebox is a one-stop talent sourcing and engagement platform which is powered by automation. Here’s how you can source product managers from LinkedIn using Nurturebox:

  • Install the Nurturebox Chrome plugin and sign up.
  • On your LinkedIn profile, start sourcing Content Marketers with boolean searches stating the required experience from targeted locations and including other criteria
  • Add the qualified candidates to your sourcing campaign pipeline with just a click
  • Automate the candidate engagement through email, Whatsapp and LinkedIn direct messages for reaching out and nurturing candidates at scale.

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